This summer, KYUK’s Petra Harpak headed up the Kuskokwim to learn how fishing upriver differs from the downriver fishing she knows.
It didn’t take her long to find someone taking a unique approach to smoking fish.
“I grew up using the standing live cottonwood, but after living in Holy Cross, they use the standing dry cottonwood and it’s got a really good dry smoke and it makes the fish taste a lot better. So, I think I’m the only person who goes out to get the drift cottonwood without the bark,” said Dorris Allain.
That’s Dorris Allain in Aniak, where she and her family have been fishing for the last 10 years. She talked to Petra about some of the changes she’s seen, and her thoughts about downriver openers.
“I think it was about five or six years ago we had the closure where we were restricted to the four-inch, and that was particularly hard because we’d be out for maybe 12-hours a day trying to at least get seven,” said Allain. During that time, a lot of people were complaining, but my thought was if we don’t have any fish to escape then we wouldn’t have anything in five years. It took a lot of days of being out and just drifting with a short net four-inch, but we had enough once we were able to set net. We’d target the reds for strips when we did have the closure about five years ago. So with that now we’ve gotten a lot of kings now that are running really good.”
When asked about the downriver openers, Allain had this to say: “Downriver openers? So at one point I know they had the whole river open; it just didn’t seem right because there are so many people down in the Bethel area compared to our smaller villages up here. So I think now how they do their openings, it’s a lot better.”
Harpak asked, “Do you think it’s fair?”
Allain replied, “I think so and I think not because if I lived downriver I wouldn’t think it was fair, but I don’t know how they look at that. But I know that it helps us up here get our quota. The year we weren’t restricted to any type of net gear of anything we were barely catching anything up here, and once everybody was done cutting fish and they were all finished down, we would catch 22 in one drift and that was using a regular king salmon net.”
Listen to the full conversation to hear more about fishing in Aniak on KYUK's morning program Coffee @ KYUK.